Thursday, August 12, 2010, 04:16 PM

WZCC-NY Summer Quarterly Meeting, July 18, 2010

The New York Chapter enjoyed a sunny July summer day, filling all corners with bright light. It was neither too hot nor too humid. Members gathered at the Darbe Mehr in Suffern to enjoy a real culinary marvel, a superb Summer Barbecue, and struck a relaxed tone together in causal dress. The weather and friendly warmth matched the internal light members found in the day's programs, culminating in a fascinating presentation from Mr. Fali D. Shroff.

We began by viewing and discussing the DVD of the 9th World Zoroastrian Congress held in Dubai in 2009. Zoroastrians cannot resist feeling invigorated when they see the DVD. It surveys many segments of our achievements and contributions across the globe. Skillfully, the DVD shows the leadership Zoroastrians give where they go, emphasizing our spirit for building communities. Chapter Chair Natalie H. Vania-Gandhi was eager for members to consider civic and commerce contributions as compliments to other aspects - religious, moral, spiritual, cultural and more - of Zoroastrians.

We broke off to enjoy the cookout. The Chapter typically enjoys excellent cuisine and the Summer Barbecue gave a new boost to our pleasure. Dilshad and Dara Todiwala catered. They were assisted at a sizzling grill by Navroz Gandhi, Rusi Gandhi, Wayne Tereza, and Kayomarz Khambatta. The remarkable feast included the finest, never-to-be-forgotten, grilled lamb. Memories of the delectable food are long-lasting.

Our internal spirits remained bright as program activities resumed for a vital presentation. The 2009 Chair of the DMZT Trustee Committee, Mr. Fali D. Shroff, spoke on "Travels in Rural Gujarat to Zarathushti Homes: Action to Assist". Fali, an eminent member of ZAGNY over decades, has taken inspired travels in India. He takes special effort to explore the situations of impoverished Parsi's. His aim is to convey what he learns and assist unfortunate Zarathushtis.

For the last six years, Fali has undertaken trips to Mumbai at his own expense and with funds donated and raised by the wonderful and generous congregations of ZAGNY, IZA, FEZANA, UK, California, Florida, Australia and more. He has visited the Mumbai Dungerwadi and distributed the funds one on one to the Nassesalars, the entire staff at the Dungerwadi, and their children. Fali has made a tour of villages through Gujarat in his recent trip. Dishaw Tamboly of WZO-India guided Fali to villages and the farmers working in them.

As Fali learned in talking to Zoroastrian farmers, many have vast lands to cultivate, but live in exceedingly rudimentary conditions. Fali documents the living situation of farmers through photography. Many farmers live in housing which is utterly exposed to the elements. We saw thatched roofs on rickety stakes, no walls, and no capacity for storing property apart from a small bed, a few changes of clothes, and Zarathushtra's picture. It almost seemed as though some lived in camp sites more so than homes. But these rough structures are actually the everyday homes of our fellow Zoroastrians and their families!

Fali explained that about six thousand dollars suffice to build a sheltered cottage for a family. The Rivetna family, (sister Perviz Krishnayya, brother Dara Rivetna, and brother Rohinton Rivetna, together with their children Raiomand, Jehan, Zubin, Zenobia, Jamshed and Cyrus), sponsored the construction of one such cottage. The effort was carried out in memory of their parents (the younger generation's grandfather and grandmother); Minocher Jamshedjee Rivetna and Tehmina Minocher Rivetna.

Fali's provoking pictures of the Zoroastrian farmers touched the heartstrings of our audience of twenty-five people. Throughout the villages Fali visited, Zoroastrian farmers are relatively less favorably situated compared to other ethnicities. It was reassuring to see the farmers smiling at us in the pictures. We could see their healthy yearning to do more in farming, building their villages, and for their children.

Fali also visited a school in Mumbai. A contingent of village children is able to attend the school. However when resources become scare, the children are dismissed and sent back to villages. With living situations in the villages being very rough, the transition from school to the village home becomes difficult for our promising youth. We saw pictures of the school, a major institution.

Fali also shared pictures of the Nassesalars in Mumbai, a lively group of about fifty people. He related travails of an ill and elderly person we saw in one of the pictures. With a travelerís eye for seeking out an unfortunate person, Fali's kind help got the loyal fellow to a hospital for medical care.

Fali appreciates feedback on his charitable work. He intends to return to the Gujarat farmers for fifteen days in October to continue investigating villagers' circumstances. He must have a bright soul to undertake this good initiative! Rusi D. Gandhi, WZCC World Director, presented Fali with a WZCC T-shirt thanking Fali for his presentation. Participants also included Edul Daver, Mehru and Lovji Cama, Nelly and Lovji Cama, Homi Gandhi, Rupy and Lovji Hakim, Meher (who assited in providng Agendas) and Dinyar Hodiwala, Goolcher and Kayomarz Khambatta, Arnaz Maneckshana, Maharukh and Firdosh Mehta, Framroze Patel, and Gul and Homi Sarkary. Karl Khambatta, among our shining Youth, thoughtfully observed and assisted the day's activities.

The Chapter found inspiration in the needs protrayed by Fali and we embarked on an initiative to assist in Gujarat. A pilot group; Edul and Niloufer Darver, Dinyar and Meher Hodiwala, the Gandhi's, and Arnaz Maneckshana, met at the Gandhi home on July 29 to devise a micro-enterprise program. It may be a "Farmers' Uplift Initiative" or take form under a similar theme of uplift.

We collected pledges in excess of twenty-six percent of a target goal of $5000.00. Our Chapter can review pilot group ideas with our devoted and capable Treasurer, Noshir Dutia. We hope to provide a major resource (we imagined a new tractor!) which can help a village increase productivity or growth and enable those we assist to repay our financing for yet another village in turn.

With the extremes of commerce, we see the foremost contributions fortunate Zarathushtis make around the world. Also, WZCC-NY recognizes that improving prospects for Zarathushtis in rural Gujarat is do-able. Thus, WZCC-NY is taking initiative to uplift to fellow Zarathusthis. We hope it spreads the light we found in the July sunshine and in Fali's good efforts.

Copyright, Natalie H. Vania-Gandhi, 2010.

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The Invisible Sale and Achieving the American Dream, Kurus Elavia, CEO, Gateway Group One
Sunday, June 13, 2010, 06:40 PM
WZCC-NY 2010 Spring Quarterly Meeting, May 2, 2010

The Invisible Sale and Achieving the American Dream, Kurus Elavia, CEO, Gateway Group One

On a fine May 2 afternoon, WZCC-NY enjoyed a gracious offer from the ZAGNY Religious Class leaders, Lovji Cama, Keki Dadachanji, and Erach Munshi to integrate a meeting so that more people would gain exposure to WZCC. This splendid suggestion brought nearly 75 people to our session, with many teenagers catching sight of the successful NJ Young Entrepreneur of the Year award-winner, Mr. Kurus Elavia.

Kurus began his story mentioning that his best jobs in life are husband and father. He does not see himself as having reached a finality, but as being in a struggle to achieve more in a challenging economy. Part and parcel of entrepreneurship is its very state of mind. It is a readiness to learn, acquire new capacities, and adapt as called for by environments. Over time, one comes into the entrepreneur's role through this outlook.

He enjoyed a first love in martial arts and had a black belt by 1988 in Mumbai. With his prayers, an occassion for temporary employment arose at the American Consulate. One week later, at the age of twenty-three, he found himself at JFK in America. He had a visa and a suitcase. He spent three months at a YMCA, found a ride to Ohio, all the while working in casual jobs. He returned to Jamaica, New York, sold newspapers in the Bronx, safeguarded his cash from thieves by the classic recourse of storing it in his socks, and worked at a lotto machine in a candy store. Then he went to fill out an application at Gateway Security.

The busy lady at Gateway asked Kurus to leave. It is a testament to Kurus's people-first ethic that Kurus overcame her reluctance to give him an application form and today the lady is among Kurus's treasured four thousand employees. His first customer is also still with Gateway. Kurus worked weekends when others did not and became the person known for fixing others' mistakes. He convinced Home Depot to use Gateway for security services.

Ten years into his employment, the owner and his sons were preparing to sell the company. Its good will and premium-brand customers would help the owner sell as retirement approached. Kurus tried a two month stint as a securities broker, not enjoying enjoy the restricted feeling he got. He had breakfast with Gateway's owner and his son, Kurus' friend, and proposed something new. He wanted a chance to run the company for three years and promised to double its revenues. He got the chance. And he got more top-of-the-line customers, such as Ikea, Lucent and Pfizer. What was he doing to make upstart Gateway competitive with global brands in the security industry?

Kurus was changing security from a commodified service to an experience and he was selling the experience to his customer and to his workforce. Reputation was key. He kept the customer very close and gave every employee ownership in his endeavor. Kurus personally hires each of his employees, investing his trust with them. He explains that security is an "invisible sale", where the customer does not see a ready product after a sale, but must spend millions and tens of millions for the service his company provides. His compelling strength is that if he makes a promise, his team keeps the promise. He never burns any bridges or takes more customers than his company can handle. All team members are ready to insure the customer experience. Customer loyalty is priceless and price is never the tigger in his sales.

In his entrepreneurship, Kurus offers cautions. He had to make hard choices between working and visiting India, fear must be confronted, risk must be sought, and activities require passion. He finds the tyranny of "And or Or" in which the world lives oppressive. So he allows opposing thoughts to find room in his mind and grow together. He shares the good and the bad with his staff and customers. After 9-11, he helped airlines in a "care campaign", letting them rearrange payment terms if necessary.

Are Indians especially favored for employment at Gateway? What Kurus seeks is committed workers. However, in India he thinks, "work is worship", so the work ethic immigrants bring helps them in America. With the best things in life being free, he is not especially driven as CEO to acquire Gateway Group One for himself. His aim is to do good for it and his team. He is skilled at seeing nothing between what he wants and himself, and masters competence to reach his desires.

The best question asked him about spiritual aspects within his type-A, CEO-driven life. Kurus defers on that point to his wife, his "better half". That is modest, for he began his story noting the personal relationships of husband and father and prayers while hoping the consulate could use him. In all parts of his story, he stresses personal engagement with each employee and customer, an essential trust which he builds and maintains over decades, delivering on promises, loyalty, and reputation.

Gateway Group One is now in partnership with governmental agencies to provide higher education through Frontline Academy. His for-profit work is in mutual accord with the Academy's non-profit aim to enhance lives and provide jobs; a "win-win" for Gateway and government. On the young side for an acclaimed American CEO, there is wide berth ahead for the new things Kurus will achieve as an entrepreneur in a land where he creates and gives opportunity. He is a driven man, surely not ready to rest on the laurels of achievement.

We envisioned parents telling their children tales of the Zoroastrian entrepreneurial record. At this event, such dreams were manifest. One man took his small daughter, an adorably shy, sweet four year old, through the latest SynergyZ Journal. The father explained what had been built and is being built today by our people. Therein, a spark of imagination for who we are and will be began its journey in this little girl's imagination. Surely she will take forward the kind, honest, and hard-working ways of Zoroastrians.

WZCC-NY thanks all who assisted in the event; ZAGNY's Religious Class, Maharukh Mehta and family, DMZT, wonderful caterering by Jasely Dukandar and Sheroo Kanga, WZCC-NY Organinizing Team/Board (Yazad Dalal, Paul Daruwala, Edul Daver, Noshir Dutia, Rusi D. Gandhi, Meher and Dinyar Hodiwala, Sheroo and Vispi Kanga, and Arnaz Maneckshaw), and Wayne.

Copyright, Natalie H. Vania-Gandhi, 2010.

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WZCC-NY 1st Sykpe Toronto NY Joint Collaboration & Health Care Finance
Friday, February 26, 2010, 02:07 PM


Technology lets us make history in news ways. On Feb. 18, 2010 the Toronto and New York Chapters of WZCC experimented in a joint session conducted through Skype. Xerxes Wania and Sam Meer of the WZCC-Toronto Chapter conceived the idea and approached the NY Chapter-Chair, Natalie H. Vania-Gandhi. She loved their idea and all cooperated to make it happen.

About fifteen people in Toronto gathered at Sam Meer's business premises. They connected with a smaller group from New York. The Joint Session also enjoyed the engaged participation of Yazdi Tantra in Mumbai. He showed real dedication. With the US East Coast evening timing of 7:00-8:00, it meant a 5:30 AM call for Yazdi!

Discussion centered on "Impressions from the Dubai Congress". Attendees reviewed highlights of the World Congress and stressed the effect of it on their outlook for the community. Afreed Mistry, a YLEP award winner, reviewed many initiatives that had developed pre-Congress and hopes for how initiatives will develop post-Congress.

The World Congress revealed how readily Zoroastrian achievers are globalizing their efforts and connections with others far and wide, near and close. In response to a question from Xerxes on the most vital impression for WZCC, Natalie and Yazdi agreed. Each spoke about conveying the tremendous opportunity WZCC presents. Through the organization, people can engage with each other in comfortable ways to develop remarkable and action-oriented connections.

Skype is a free tool, utilizing Voice Over Internet Protocol, VOIP. It allows people to make phone calls across the globe for free through their computers. It is a new way to connect to share business ideas and expand on opportunities together. As the Joint session wrapped up, WZCC-Toronto introduced the concept of using the Skype forum to highlight entrepreneurs who have requested assistance in expanding their markets and horizons. WZCC-NY extended a welcome hand for whenever Toronto visitors are in the tri-state region.

This could be the start of something beautiful.


We are in a blinding winter snow storm on February 25 on America's east coast as the USA President convenes a health care summit with Congressional members. WZCC-NY can hardly be more timely. In its Winter Quarterly meeting on Sunday, Feb 21, dedicated members convened in Suffern to discuss what individuals and small business owners can do about the financing of their health care.

In one of WZCC's most engaged discussions, Mr. Jamshed R. Ghadiali provided many avenues into the USA's health care economics. His first question with health reform took the group into the heart of social disparity. He asked, "Who is it we wish to help in improving the financial landscape of health care?" For those earning below $13,000.00 per year, over thirty percent are unemployed. This necessitates great difficulty in their purchasing insurance. At the other end of the social scale, individuals enjoy high employment and four hundred families earn an average of $375 million of income per year.

While people agree the current system is not ideal, Jamshed mentioned historical features leading to today's situation. General Motors and MetLife devised the first group insurance contract in the 1930's. Some wondered if "too much govenrment" was already in the mix. Jamshed explained that the group contract was an employment benefit provided as a response to WW II governmental wage controls.

Startling facts kept coming from Jamshed. At birth today, an American's expected lifespan is lengths beyond the expected lifespan of current WZCC members, we spend over seventeen percent GDP on health, people aggressively seek dangerous, low-wage jobs for the health insurance benefit, and it is not feasible to get long-term disabilty benefits and stay employed. Average nursing home costs are $219.00 per day across the country and they average $575.00 in New Jersey, home to several Chapter members.

Seventy percent of people over 65 will need long term care at some stage of their life. Yet forty percent of the money spent on long term care goes to people between the ages of 18 and 64. In-home care runs at $21.00 per hour and physical assistance is often required from young people for older people.

Purchasing long term care insurance at younger ages rather than waiting can save a family huge sums in monthly or annual premiums. There is difficulty getting young professionals to take this simple step, but a younger Chapter member at the meeting resolved to investigate in light of informative guidance. Many members were familiar with resources for the aging in other countries. Jamshed mentioned several people receiving USA pension or social security provisions who are able to live in well-off circumstances in India.

We learned of one Zoroastrian who went to medical school after another successful career and then found the health care in distant New Zealand to be much better than in the US. One member wondered if prudence would direct one to either reach great entrepreneurial heights or depart in old-age to a distant foreign destination. Also, attendees shared remarks on the World Congress in Dubai. Insights highlighted strengths each region of the World is bringing to the Zoroastrian community.

Mr. Jamshed R. Ghadiali, MBA, CLU(r), ChFC(r), has enjoyed a career of twenty years in financial services. At MetLife he provides assistance to families and business owners. His products and services include life, disability and long term care insurance, annuities, certificate of deposits, momey market funds, mortgages, strategies and products for education, retirement, wealth, and estate planning. Pervez Patel and Arnaz Maneckshana, Past Chapter President, also contributed their expertise as skilled financial professionals with Jamshed.

As well as a business philosophy of assisting others to achieve financial freedom, Jamshed is a genuine civic contributor by way of leadership in professional and county organizations, an over 200-times blood donor, and a cancer research fundraiser in the NYC Marathon. He is married to Yasmin, a dentist, and has a brilliant daughter, Aysha. Jamshed and Yasmin received the Jamshed Pavri Humanitarian Service Award in 1998 from the North American Zarathushti Community for their inspired assistance to other people.

We were happy to welcome a new and dynamic Chapter member, Mrs. Niloufer Tamboly. Paul Daruwala, Chapter Vice-President, Edul Daver, Chapter Advisor, and Rusi Gandhi, WZCC World Director helped in attracting Sunday's participants. Paul and Rusi felicitated Jamshed, awarding him a WZCC lapel pin and giving him a WZCC T-shirt. Dilshad Todiwala catered a superb and delectable luncheon.

Chapter Chair, Natalie H. Vania-Gandhi alerted members to several items of news; an area job hunt in the accounting field; a request for introductions to top NYC hospital administrators; WZCC Youth initiatives for international internships in the IT field; a Chapter look-out for potential WZCC award candidates; a March event on foreign bank account holders from WZCC-Houston, and a future event registration trial through Meher and Dinyar Hodiwala assisted in organizing and Noshir Dutia recorded the event on video.

Who knows what is around the next corner with health care and our economics? How do we manage in a time of change and contention? What is the future of our health care? Despite the known and unknown unknowns, all WZCC-NY Chapter members can reflect thoughtfully together on these profound matters in the midst of our unceasing snowstorms.

- Copyright, Natalie H. Vania-Gandhi and Sam Meer, 2010.


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frm WZCC-NY Chair Notes - Tiger or Hummer Man?
Monday, January 25, 2010, 06:40 PM
... Paul has a superb idea that we should provoke you in order to get our Chapter revved up and roaring ahead. To that end, I will ask you, who is the man of the decade? Frank Rich (NYT, Dec. 20) says it is Tiger Woods and he makes a good point. But John Bussey (see appended excerpt) says the man of the decade is Hummer Man!

Of course, one also ends up asking if "the man of the decade" is just "the person of the decade" --- I don't think Hummer Man has to be gendered.

Rusi and I depart for Dubai on Christmas Day. We will be thinking of you and how our Chapter can help you while we are at the AGM.

But we promise not to miss the East Coast weather!

All the Best for You and Yours,
in a Turbocharged 2010 New Year,

WSJ, DECEMBER 21, 2009

The Rising Influence of Rising Affluence
As Terrorism and War Shook the World, Sweeping Change Came From the Spread of Economic Liberalization


Call him Hummer Man -- our man of the decade.

"It was 2005, and the young Chinese man had parked his beast of a vehicle, a cherry-red Hummer with big fog lamps and tires the size of Nebraska, at a busy intersection in downtown Shanghai. As he sat in the driver's seat, his fellow Chinese passed and marveled.

"What a beautiful machine," a reporter yelled up to the driver.

The man looked down, pointed to the hood and responded simply:


There were many events that grabbed world headlines in this first decade of the 21st century: the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the U.S.; the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that followed; natural disaster in Asia; financial intoxication, and the subsequent global purge and crash.

But a good argument can be made that Hummer Man, poster child for new affluence, embodies the more fundamental story of our times -- and the far more dominant and lasting force affecting world affairs.

Across the globe, economic and political liberalization reached critical mass in recent years, propelling hundreds of millions of people up the income curve, and unleashing a flood of ambition and aspiration. A force that started to build in 1978 in China, 1991 in India, and more recently in many other developing economies, is now indeed turbocharged.
... ...
... Aspiration begat Hummer Man, ...
... ...
And behind him, waiting for their chance to plug into the grid: roughly 700,000 Chinese, still on the farm, with growing aspirations of their own."

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Panel - Real Estate Opportunities in Challenging Times
Monday, December 7, 2009, 12:49 PM - Eventnote
WZCC-NY Chapter Activities

"Real Estate Opportunities in Challenging Times" a Panel Discussion.

The November 22 meeting occurred at the Suffern New York Darbe Mehr on a sunny and brisk day. President Arnaz Maneckshaw summarized the Chapter's strong progress over her three year term. Edul Daver, Chapter Advisor, Noshir Dutia, Chapter Finance and Membership Director, and Rusi D. Gandhi M.B.A., Chapter Advisor and WZCC World Director, each spoke with gratitude for Arnaz's dedicated efforts. Arnaz was awarded with a plaque of fine mahogany and she spoke of excellent traits in the new board members. Incoming Chapter board members include Paul Daruwala, Vice-President Elect, Noshir Dutia, Sheroo Kanga, Secretary and Communications Director, Zubin Canteenwala, Youth Director and Yazad Dalal, Youth Director.

The incoming Chapter Chair, Dr. Natalie H. Vania-Gandhi, complimented Arnaz for her striking professional record and her proven devotion to the Chapter. All seem greatly enthused with the new team and members are assured that New York's Chapter will be a showcase of North American Chapters. Natalie's entrepreneurship, her experience as a founding member of WZCC in California and Chicago, and her engagement in previous AGM's, will enhance the New York Chapter's progress. Arnaz entrusted the Chair's gavel to the new Chair.

After highlighting Arnaz's experience as a first among North American women to lead a WZCC Chapter Chair, Rusi Gandhi, spoke on the upcoming Dubai WZCC AGM. Area residents, Rusi and Natalie, Edul and Niloufer Daver, Farrokh and Gool Patel, Rohinton and Maharukh Cama, Dinyar Hodiwala and his son, Adil Hodiwala, Homi Gandhi, and Navroz Gandhi expect to attend in Dubai. We then moved on to the day's central event, a Panel Discussion, "Real Estate Opportunities in Challenging Times". Professional expertise was on display in detailed presentations, with participants including Dinyar Hodiwala, on "Foreclosures and Short Sales", Vispi Daruwala, on "Securing Mortgages Today", Persis Daruwala, on "The Role of the Title Company" and Rusi D. Gandhi, Moderator, "Real Estate Internet Auctions".

It was vital to hear timely ins and outs from practionnaire experts, especially for those looking to invest profitably in the current economic climate. The audience's Q&A was engaged, observing fine points in contract negotiations as well as the brave entrepreneurism of the panelists. Each panelist had entered real estate in an intriguing way. The audience received inspiration in their business start-up perspectives, from their long-time operational stamina, and their depth of knowledge. We were surprised hearing of a clever internet auction at $26,000.00 below an earlier offer for a property, with the resulting ownership being $104,000.00 below the median price of surrounding homes.

Paul Darawala, incoming Chapter Vice-President, helped with logistics and concluded the event. Guests included a contingent of ten people who enjoyed the unique cultural tour in the Arbab Guiv Darbe Mehr, as well as an exquisite lunch provided by Sheroo and Vispi Kanga. Noshir Dutia provided the kind service of recording the event. Meher Hodiwala devised the Agenda and helped with others in setting up for the event. The group celebrated Arnaz's tenure and Dinyar's birthday with luscious cakes. Pictures of the event are posted at

Copyright, 2009, Natalie H. Vania-Gandhi.

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Stunners in a TiE Evening with Rakesh K. Kaul
Tuesday, September 22, 2009, 07:06 PM - Eventnote
Stunners in a TiE Evening with Rakesh K. Kaul

Wednesday, September 9, 2009, WZCC-NY Guests at TiE NJ-Philly

It was another sparkling day as we traveled over New Jersey's winding highways to Edison. Eleven WZCC-NY Chapter members were welcomed at the TiE-NJ-Philly September meeting. We all arrived with bright spirits and lively minds to absorb the adventures of Mr. Rakesh K. Kaul. We discovered an enlightened man, an epitome of achievement. We heard stories from his life while enjoying an excellent Indian dinner.

Let me first relate one of the most stunning facts Rakesh Kaul recounted. In four years, a new company he devised had assets of four billion dollars - a stunning number! But the real stunner in the story is the motivation and fine insight Rakesh evidenced in making the new business. He explained that in running Fingerhut, a consumer goods company, it occurred to him that his customers often did not have as good access to credit as others. He knew Fingerhut customers were good folks, a huge majority of them steady customers following through on their commitments.

Although Wall Street was unsure of the opportunity, Rakesh was determined to get a credit source funded for these good folks. His view was to make the most of the better part of human nature, helping the deserving portion of his customer base. After more than a year of hunting down the financial backing, he achieved his kindly-thought end and the new company was born.

The positive belief in human nature and indeed in his own never-ending venturing defines the man. "Venturing" has always a matter of undertaking admist elements of chance in uncertain seas, he explains. He advises that taking on risk is intrinsic in life's grand journeys. His earliest story, one of departing from professional training in order to play a part as a movie-actor, shows him biting into risk and prevailing to the good.

Movie acting when India was a young country and newly independent? It turns out the movie role was inspired. It was actually a role as a heroic scientist in documentary taken throughout India into distant villages. It inspired young people to pursue science. The documentary created a mass awareness for the benefits of knowledge to the largest democracy. How many young dreamers who saw Rakesh Kaul were motivated to use their diligence and attend IIT?

When Rakesh himself attended IIT, he loved it for the "power of Ideas". There, he says, "We were free" in the never-ending pursuit of knowledge. He excelled and went to America, continuing a record of firsts in his achievements. He did not fear diverting from trodden paths, being led by his enthusiasms to his next venue. If he had to access a laboratory's electron microscope in the dead of night when it was not in use, he found the key to lab and triumphed in his scientific work.

Not all striving heroes get admission simultaneously to Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago. When Rakesh was welcomed by all three, he chose Chicago as the obvious "temple of free markets" and pursued the study of finance under Prof. Merton Miller, a Noble Prize recipient. Prof. Miller awarded Kaul for his "tacit understanding" of macroeconomics.

Rakesh Kaul's firm intellect, his erudition, his venturing even to distant Japan, his many firsts in achievements, and his kind nature made a remarkable night. Our WZCC-NY Chapter was mentioned at the start of the evening. We were delighted to have at least two young professional Zoroastrians in our group. Our most dedicated members, with their own records of entrepreneurial success, were present. Attendees included Edul Daver, Mehroo Baria, Shahrooz Bhopti, Rusi D. Gandhi, Nina Irani, Tiru Irani, Chapter Chair Arnaz Maneckshana, Farrokh Patel, Framroze Patel, Pervez Patel, and Natalie Vania-Gandhi.

Our WZCC-NY Chapter thanks TiE-NJ/Philly President Raj Lakhanpal and Mrs. Neeta Kulkarni for their gracious reception at TiE-NJ/Philly.

- Copyright, Natalie Vania (Vania-Gandhi) , Sept 21, 2009.


As described by TiE-NJ/Philly, here is a summary of Mr. Kaul,


Rakesh Kaul is a highly experienced senior executive, both inspired and inspiring in his actions with over 30 years of operational, entrepreneurial and turn around experience.

Rakesh began his career at Beatrice / Hunt Wesson Inc, where he served as Director Corporate Development and Planning as well as in various financial positions.

From 1987 to 1992 Kaul was a member of the Board of Directors and held the position of Senior Vice President Strategy and Finance at Shaklee corp. a multinational manufacturer and direct marketer of nutritional and personal care products.

In the early 90s as Vice Chairman of Fingerhut Corp, he led the company to industry leading results.

In the late 90s as Chairman/CEO of Hanover Direct Inc.he pioneered offering BPO services out of India by creating a division that serviced US Fortune 500 companies.

Rakesh Kaul is an innovative leader having managed large US companies, creating major value by solving problems in complex businesses in highly innovative ways.

Rakesh is currently Chairman of SPHERENOMICS LLC an Indo-US Marketing and Outsourcing Solutions provider for Consumer Branded companies.

Mr.Kaul received his undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi, India. He received his M.S. from Brown University and was awarded his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago .In addition; he is a Certified Public Accountant."

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New Media Event at Lucent
Friday, July 24, 2009, 05:33 PM - Eventnote
Attended a great event yesterday. I had that Silicon Valley feeling in the "exponential living"!

from The New Jersey Technology Council,

"New Media Forum: Examining the Technologies and Capital That Drive New Media

Date: July 23, 2009
Time: 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Over the next decade, traditional TV and new media will converge and change the way we access and watch TV. With the advent of Internet video distribution services and products such as Hulu, YouTube, Twitter, Boxee, Roku, we're just at the start of seeing new ways to access film, TV and user generated content on large screens, PCs and mobile devices.

What are the new consumer electronics products that are emerging? What digital technologies are key to content virtualization? What changes does Internet video distribution have on traditional distributors, such as cable TV and satellite operators, cable programmers, broadcasters and Hollywood?

We'll take a look at the impacts of emerging digital technologies and the disintermediation impacts that the Internet is creating in the media distribution space over the next 3-5, 5-10 years.

4:00 - 4:30 - New Media Products/Services Competition Presentations

Selected Products/Services include: - News Edge v8
Alcatel - Lucent - Advertising Selection Server
RevTrax - In Store Promotions
xCypher - mediaWedge
4:30 - 5:30 - 2020 View: Converging Media & Emerging Technologies Landscape

Moderated by Susan Brazer, Managing Partner, Lionshare Strategies

Panelists: Mike Antonovich, CEO, Genesis Networks
Joseph Ambeault, Director of Consumer Product Development, Verizon Markus Hofmann, Head of Service Infrastructure Research, Bell Labs Research/Alcatel-Lucent
Darcy Lorincz, CEO, Origin Digital
Peter Rohr, Sr. Manager for Business Development with Qualcomm's Media Flo
Andy Sontag, Regional Territory Manager, Isilon Systems

5:30 - 6:30 - Managing Through the Storm: A View from Venture Investors in New Media

Moderated by Victor H. Boyajian, National Chair, Sonnenschein Venture Technology Group

Panelists: Wes Cole, Director of Innovations, Alcatel-Lucent Ventures
Gidon Coussin, Co-Founder, Boxee
Jeff Shelstad, Founder and CEO, Flat World Knowledge
Gil Beyda, Managing Partner, Genacast Ventures

Alcatel - Lucent
600 Mountain Avenue
Arnold Auditorium
Murray Hill, NJ 07974"
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Notes on A Summer Evening at TIE in A Glorious July
Thursday, July 9, 2009, 11:07 PM - Eventnote
Notes on A Summer Evening at TIE in a Glorious July

Wednesday July 8, 2009, TIE NJ-Philadelphia Event

Panel participants included Raman Kapur: Chairman, Global Pharamaceutical Services, LLC and formerly President of world-wide Generics for Schering Plough Corporation; Geeta Vemuri, PhD: Partner at Quaker Bio Ventures; Samir Patel, M.D.: President, CEO & Co-founder of Opthotech Corporation and Founder of Eye Tech Pharmaceuticals Inc., acquired for nearly $1 billion; Joseph Fischer: Lifeblood Medical, Inc's Chair,and President and CEO; and Sundeep Bhan: President/CEO and Co-founder of Medsite Inc.a leading online pharmaceutical marketing and services company, acquired by WebMD.

Winding through New Jersey's spaghetti highways to Edison, one had to love the summer's blue sky, the occasional countryside and the sunshine of the Garden State. TIE offered a superb event yesterday evening. Attendees enjoyed a phenomenal panel where each speaker excelled. Participants spent about ten minutes explaining what they had done and were going to do. Two panelists were especially thrilling.

Joseph Fisher riveted us. Almost casually as he spoke, he came to mentioning a diagnosis of a crushing, life-threatening disease coming just as he was raising funding. "Doors shut very fast". But he prevailed.

His cancer went into remission through the brave, research-oriented action of being the first patient to take two advanced medications in tandem. Investors re-appeared, Joseph received a patent for the technology innovation and foremost entrepreneurial awards. Many licensing niches for a foundational technology opened.

What he described sounded incredible -- preserving an organ over days without reduction in its temperature, giving each cell rather than the organ system oxygen, even regenerating a kidney's condition so it can be transplanted, and saving entire severed limbs on the battlefield for reattachment.

As with Joseph Fisher, Samir Patel was compelled by the entrepreneurial quest. Both men left secure academic positions to found their companies. Again, I heard an exceedingly brave thing: In treating macular degeneration, Samir was one of the people on the frontiers, using pharmaceutical injection to the back of the eye, near the retina. Such an injection was not even conceived earlier as a possible treatment!

With about 8 million Americans likely to suffer macular degeneration, the disease is easily comparable with the devastation of breast cancer. Samir had to raise $8 Million in three weeks for his early company. He achieved that fund-raising goal.

Entrepreneurs like Samir, risking all security for himself and family, driven by exceptional knowledge and a labor of love, make the difference in giving hope against the blindness of millions. After the session, Samir and I expressed our fierce appreciation for The University of Chicago, Samir's research institution, a place like no other, to one another.

The vision of the panelists, as well as their manner in expressing their stories, effects me so deeply. A few months ago we saw Captain Sullenberger, a hero, among us, and now at just another networking dinner on a slow and glorious day in July, we have heroes right and left again with us.

I really think everyone in the room last night at TIE probably has a great wealth of heroic stories to tell everyone else. What a time to live!

- Copyright, Natalie Vania (Vania-Gandhi) , July 9, 2009.


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Froth, Babble, Bubble, Bubblet, Boldbubble, Got Bubbled
Tuesday, August 9, 2005, 01:08 PM - Eventnote, Aesthetics, Finance
This Thursday evening, Integrity Investment Advisors, Inc. of San Diego, California will offer "Real Estate Investments Ė 3 ways to protect your assets in a down market". The event is at 7:00 pm at their headquarters,

11772 Sorrento Valley Road, Suite 100
San Diego, CA 92121

(and interested parties should kindly call in an RSVP to 858-523-0093. Refreshments are provided!)

Some say affluent people have already begun off-loading real estate, shorting REITS, or hedging with futures. Presidential advisors claim no housing bubble exists, and others urge correction from a bubble shrinking down. Economists, journalists, and mathematicians debate whether fundamentals explain housing prices.

Are banks rationally providing mortgages or playing in the moral hazard of a liquid market? Does America's housing market reflect global housing trends or defy them? Are rental prices in line with housing services? How badly are strange taxes distorting housing prices? Was there really long ago a Tulip Bubble, stife for possessing the beauty of a rare flower, or is it myth and legend?

Is a house owned in bubble less owned or more owned than a house bought in market without froth? It may be less owned --- one needs to sell it in good order to the next rational speculator --- or it may be more owned, as one so bravely over-extends to secure the good in question. If the asset does not comprise part of one's enduring legacy, who will steward that house to good use over the long course?

If "clothes make the man" and "you are what you drive", how much does the asset of a house, and all of its shifting financial relations (with ownership, renting, taxation, eminent taking, land grant ...), make the person? Does Justice Souter know?

How much of a house, and a bubble, are material --- here and now in the world? How much of house, and a bubble, is nounemal --- a state of mind, a coming into and going out of Existence, an American Dream? Can we gain in these ethereal depths, gazing across the sublime, glittering Pacific from Torrey Pines?

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Menace, Not Prevailing
Monday, July 18, 2005, 09:33 AM - 9/11, Aesthetics
07.18.2005 As much as any nice lady in Springfield, Illinois could read this last week on Rove Rage and Plame Wars, I have. Smoke and mirrors inside the Beltway, but it is so early, still July. Not yet August!

Maybe timings will unwind just so for a long August day, steamy and menacing in its misleading quiet. Then, we can grind bitter embers of impudent intrigues slowly through our knowing minds.

Four years ago, we had another slow August. Golden day mellowing and turning to another endless sun-filled eternity. We lived, day upon blessed day. But also that August held awful menace, with dogs and police sifting again and again the grounds of our capital's Rock Creek Park.

No endless day, no fierce menace, no charred ember of Truth, forestalled the ensuing thrust in contingency's store: 9-11 came, act done, after golden, slow August. And this time, menace has struck our London, dear Londontown. What is in store by Fortune's hand?

No treachery or relenting prevails. In Time's great maw, with its hungry tiger teeth sunk deep into quivering Contingency, only Truth prevails.

We should read of it (Truth) in the news, come August, come Future.

What, when, is seeking and pursuit when a good is desired?

Is a sale a sale, when, just when? Not when it is a simple idea of purchase in the mind of the buyer, or officials in state visits to Niger. Or, not when it is an idea in the mind of an investigator who finds no receipt of delivered good. Not when the available yellowcake is slated for shipping off to France or Spain. Or, not when a shipment is diverted, slipped off, skedaddled off from chartered arrival in France or Spain or wherever, to shipment elsewhere?

Where are the sixty-one suitcase bombs? Who bought them?: I have read that cash lying out and about on the street, is not much of an economic reality.

If Knowledge makes us strong, our threat is Ignorance. The fourth estate does not grasp the threat quite as suggested here. Mr. Blair says on July 15,

"The greatest danger is that we fail to face up to the nature of the threat we are dealing with. What we witnessed in London last Thursday week was not an aberrant act. It was not random. It was not a product of particular local circumstances in West Yorkshire. Senseless though any such horrible murder is ... ... It was done according to a plan. It was meant. ... ...

Their cause ... ... is founded on a belief ..."

Yet, it is worse than Mr. Blair explains. Their cause is founded, as great evil can be founded, on a possibility: Their cause is founded upon the very possibility and contingency they exploit and by which their intent is to win.

Why do they do it? Because they can.

It is only that simple in the bottom line.

Mr. Blair urges argument in confrontation of their belief. Argument does not suffice, for war is at hand and we are in it. One also needs the Spirit that will confront the evil.

We need the Spirit that is within us when we assess War necessary, just, effective, valorous and due War's duration. It is a long, hard, slog. One we give over to political processes which are also long in conflict's urgency.

Time's menace, that ripped and bleeding contingency, never outlasts Truth. Truth is eternal, whole, and beautiful.
--- ---
From the Butler Commission Report, (14th July 2004, for The Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction, Report of a Committee of Privy Counsellors, Chairman: The Rt Hon The Lord Butler of Brockwell KG GCB CVO, p.139),

"503. From our examination of the intelligence and other material on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa, we have concluded that:
a. It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999.
b. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Nigerís exports, the intelligence was credible.
c. The evidence was not conclusive that Iraq actually purchased [emphasis], as opposed to having sought [emphasis], uranium and the British Government did not claim this.
d. The forged documents were not available to the British Government at the time its assessment was made, and so the fact of the forgery does not undermine it."

See also "Bush's "16 Words" on Iraq & Uranium ... ...", The Anneberg Public Policy Center, August 23, 2004.
--- ---
07.26.2005 I went back and refreshed myself with Joe Wilson's Op-Ed. Fairly enough, two sentences in the article detail the point that uranium shipments are so closely monitored that skedalleding-off is not likely. But the logic of the article escapes me. No sale or purchase was alleged; and what is seeking purchase, but what any might desire?
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EIA's and Risk
Thursday, July 14, 2005, 12:21 PM - Eventnote, Finance
Tonight, Integrity Investment Advisors, Inc. of San Diego, California will offer "Equity Index Annuities - 3 critical drawbacks that you must know before you purchase these annuities, and how to correct them". The event is at 7:00 pm at their headquarters,

11772 Sorrento Valley Road, Suite 100
San Diego, CA 92121

(and interested parties should kindly call in an RSVP to 858-523-0093. Refreshments are provided!)

Oh those magic derivatives! With their help, you can fashion any type of payoff expectation for your whimsy. But can an ordinary person use them with ease? Often, the average investor must take care. Care that will take you beyond the intriguing return formulas per se that derivatives offer.

For example, consider a product built with the help of a derivative, an EIA, or equity indexed annuity. Mr. Geoffrey VanderPal tells us "EIA portfolios are a combination of targeted maturity investment grade bonds and a European Call Index Option, which is a derivative security based on the underlying increase in value of an index over time with a set end date for exercise."

A regular annuity allows one to earn a specific, guaranteed, modest and tax-deferrable return on money. With an EIA, one gets a guaranteed minimum return in the stock market in exchange for limiting maximum stock market returns --- a way to play a little bit in the market while keeping a floor under oneself, an insurance.

But can it really work for an average investor? Lynn O'Shaughnessy, who writes in The San Diego Union-Tribune, is sceptical. From "A sure thing? Better to avoid those equity index annuities", March 20, 2005, she notes some of the challenges to EIA investors. These challenges can include tricky participation rates, aggressive marketing, diverse indexing methods, choice in contract lengths and other timing issues, high commission charges, and surrender charges.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy says,

" ... one of the nation's foremost fee-only insurance consultants, suggests that during bad years on Wall Street, EIA investors would be better off owning a plain old fixed annuity or certificate of deposit.

... ... there are plenty of alternatives for EIAís ... If you absolutely can't afford to lose money, you can stick your money in a certificate of deposit, a fixed annuity or a money market. You could also diversify your risk with a conservative asset mix. You could, for instance, place 80 percent of your money in bond index funds and 20 percent in stock index funds."

There is a nice clue on the complexity of derivatives in what Lynn O'Shaughnessy explains,

"[An] option is to pay someone to analyze the contract, but there aren't many professionals who can even crack the code. When the state of California, for instance, was developing ... a web site for teachers to analyze annuity and mutual fund choices in their 403(b) retirement plans, the developers struggled with the tortuous EIA provisions.

"I was working with some very bright people and their minds were spinning," recalls Scott Dauenhauer, a fee-only financial planner in Laguna Hills who was a consultant on the project."

Because of the complicated return formulas, Daily said, it could even take him several hours to thoroughly understand just one contract.

Mr. Daily understates the concern: To thoroughly understand just one contract can take several years beyond first-order calculus. And, investment strategy, understanding of the market, and an understanding of how EIA's are being marketed and sold.

In short, in today's Finance there is always more to know. Umm', love it!
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So much Money, so little Time ...
Monday, July 4, 2005, 01:37 PM - Finance
When the ordinary person thinks about money, the acts of the Fed's FOMC are rarely the first thing springing to mind. Yet what the committee does, and even more what it says, makes for scrutiny in ministries and financial haunts across the globe.

One notes the vast subtlety of it. Is it this shading or that of motive, simple or complex, we extract from Mr. Greenspan and fellows' thought, word, and act? Is it insurance of the Greenspan legacy, drab bureaucracy, maestro care, genius insight (brilliance sufficing for a "Greenspan Put"?), tightening reins, or just ineffable gestures amid the random flux that we observe?

Daniel Kadlec assesses the post-Internet "flood of easy money" has pervaded everything "from oil, gold and timber to stocks, bonds, real estate, art and the price of a Mickey Mantle rookie card" so that happy bargains no longer abound. Thus investors stick with low yield 10 year T-bonds. "Stubbornly low yields are an acknowledgement of the new reality: Today a near certain 4% return looks pretty darn good."

There you have it - take the redounding floods of money and parlay them into Time's unreachable horizon. Ten years, a decade, is not the Now by which you and I sigh, or languish, or wonder -- amazed, thrilled, or stunned.

T-bonds are stubborn and low. Gold, the flowing, liquid, shining stuff? Gold futures are down $8.00 an ounce.

Readings on the recent FOMC increase of the federal funds rate, the overnight rate charged between banks, by 25 basis points to 3.25%,

From "A New Quarter and The Same Old Questions", The Capital Spectator, Money, Oil, Economics and the Search for the Bottom Line, July 1, 2005,

"The reluctance of the bond market to support the central bank's efforts to raise the price of money across the yield and thereby move closer to inverting the yield curve is a familiar game of late. Therein lies the problem. ...which side will blink first? The Fed will either stop raising rates, and perhaps even lower them ... or the bond market will send up a white flag and sell debt securities and thereby elevate long-term yields."

"... if the growth factor is awakening from its long relative slumber, the case is still less than airtight ..."

Daniel Kadlec, "What's on Greenspan's Mind?", Time Magazine, July 3, 2005.
From Wayne Masden, to Should Greenspan step down as chairman of the Fed?, "YES: Greenspan's tendency to shoot from the lip could trigger a recession", The Salt Lake Tribune, July 2, 2005.

" ... the Fed chairman often departs from his prime mission of controlling the nation's monetary policy to launch verbal warning shells at the so-called irrational exuberance in America's housing and stock markets. ... ... he does the nation a disservice when he regularly bad mouths robust growth. ... ... Greenspan has urged that Fannie and Freddie sell-off about 80 percent of their $1.5 trillion portfolio."

From Pete du Pont, to Should Greenspan step down as chairman of the Fed?, "NO: Greenspan era of growth with low inflation deserves a round of applause", The Salt Lake Tribune, July 2, 2005.

" ... Greenspan recognizes the importance of stimulating economic growth through access to capital for small businesses ... ... a simplified and fair tax code and the repeal of arduous rules that cripple economic growth. That's what Greenspan advocates ..."

From John Azzopardi Vella, "Half-yearly evaluation of investment predictions", The Sunday Times of Malta, Malta, July 3, 2005.

"... the price of oil, which because of Chinese demand can be expected to remain above $ 50. ... in turn has consequence for Venezuelan sovereign debt, which is safe at that oil price in spite of that country's 23% inflation rate. China is now key to understanding the world economy, including that of Venezuela."

"Nothing succeeds like success in economics. The US is benefiting ... as the Chinese with their dollars buy US Treasury Stocks, keeping down that country's interest rates. If this were not happening, the US would have to sell its Treasury Stocks to other nations at a higher rate of interest, triggering a nasty recession in the US."

"Gold and the dollar ... ... The world is no longer seeking refuge in gold from the high price of oil. It is seeking it in nuclear power. ... ... BHP Billiton ... controls 38% of world uranium. ... ... The Arabs will soon learn what Sheikh Yamani, the Oil Minister of Saudi Arabia, once stated, that the Stone Age did not end because of a lack of stone. The relationship is changing from the dollar to gold, to oil and energy shares."

From Nell Henderson, "Analysts worry Greenspan Fed too forgiving", The Washington Post, July 03, 2005.

"Investors have come to perceive the Fed's policies of recent years as 'free insurance for aggressive risk-taking' ... ... The idea of 'the Greenspan put' stems in part from the chairmanís success in helping to steady financial markets through the stock market crash of 1987, the recession of 1990-91 and the international financial crises of the 1990s. ... ... Fed board member Donald Kohn noted recently ... ... 'We central bankers are by nature a gloomy lot, trained to focus on what could go wrong ... ...' ."

from Forbes, AFX News Limited, RPT - "Gold futures fall $8 an ounce, log 3% weekly loss", July 3, 2005.

"Other metals futures closed lower Friday. September copper lost 3.65 cents ... July silver ... down 17.7 cents ...September palladium dipped $2.95 ... ... gold inventories stood at 5.75 million troy ounces ... ... As for mining stocks, key indexes traded lower ... following the weakness in metals futures ..."

The Federal Reserve Board, Finance and Economics Discussion Series, "Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words? The Response of Asset Prices to Monetary Policy Actions and Statements" Refet Gurkaynak, Brian Sack, Eric Swanson, 2004-66, Keywords: Measuring monetary policy surprises, FOMC statement, factor models, asset prices.

"... ... both monetary policy actions and statements have important but differing effects on asset prices, with statements having a much greater impact on longer-term Treasury yields."


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Idea driven Neo-Cons
Friday, July 1, 2005, 10:45 PM - 9/11, Book
Dad's finishing "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man". Better to do, to choose, what you love rather than doing something for which you castigate yourself.

With Mr. Ahmadinejad so much in the news yesterday, one wondered, and suspected not, that he likewise castigated himself in his life's pursuits.

Also yesterday, we saw Adam Curtis' interview elaborating his production, "The Power of Nightmares". He attributes high ideology, a motivation run off ideas, to the neo-cons. And charges that a "politics of fear" is pushed onto a naive public. Yet it's a day where one mind, one person, can be massively dangerous, so one fellow's fear is another's prudence.

In the perspective Curtis sketched, are those motivated by Ideas strictly in service of a Hobbesian struggle indicated with a politics of fear? Ideas, are they not lofty and sublime, and thus quiet apart from fear?
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Monday, June 20, 2005, 05:57 PM - 9/11, Book, Globalization
I began "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" yesterday. Easy reading on macroeconomics, good case study on a cultural pathology. With castigating globalization running through the author's story, how much is entirely his own perspective and how much heavy editorial shaping? I am wondering what the ending will be like.

The book could make a nice Father's Day present.
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